Sheridan Ammunition Company To Expand; Will Create 200 – 250 Jobs

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By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily

Absaroka Valley Ammunition, a Sheridan-based start-up, recently announced its plans to break ground in late summer at the Sheridan County Airport business park with major production starting in the spring of 2023.

Though the company is looking to hire 15 to 25 employees right now, partner Jim Weaver said the goal is to have upwards of 200-250 full-time jobs in Sheridan. Beginning with the manufacturing of sporting calibers such as 9mm, it will eventually manufacture hunting calibers such as .223 or .556 rifle rounds.

For more than two years, the United States has struggled with a shortage of ammunition.

Initially spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage has continued as other national and international events push gun owners to stock up available ammunition. Another driving factor is the rise in gun ownership, with an estimated 10 million new gun owners in 2021 according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

According to Weaver, the idea to start an ammunition company in Sheridan was a direct result of this nationwide shortage. It was also a way to diversify the economy in the area.

“There’s a hole in the market right now and there’s no end in sight for that shortage of ammunition. We were looking for a way to diversify the economy here in Sheridan. We are very reliant on coal and natural gas and they’re seeing their own economic downturn,” said Weaver. “So, we’re bringing something else to the table that we can help boost the economy in the area.”

The “hole in the market” mentioned by Weaver is something seen by more than just general ammunition suppliers. Discreet Ballistics, in Sundance, has actually experienced a backorder.

“Demand has been very strong. We’re backordered and we’ve been making a lot of progress on our backorder,” said David Stark, owner of Discreet Ballistics. “Our prices have increased and we’ve maintained our quality and our standards. We’re not selling billions of dollars of ammunition a year but we have a very core group of customers, loyal customers, who only run our ammo in their firearms.”

Stark’s business, which has been operating in Wyoming for about 18 months, doesn’t have a storefront. His business only provides subsonic ammunition, which doesn’t sell much in Wyoming but is very popular in southwestern states where close-range hunts are more common. 

Stark said Wyoming is “uniquely situated” for firearms and ammunition manufacturing.

“Wyoming is really well situated for small-arms ammunition because of the low-density of the population and the tradition of the 2nd Amendment in the state and how encouraged it is,” said Stark. “There’s a huge opportunity to have not just ammunition, but firearms manufacturing in general in the state. Proportionally, just based on how many people live in Wyoming, there’s a huge presence of firearms manufacturers.”

According to Weaver, he and his partners have a 15-20 year plan for growth with their recently announced start-up.

To aid in that growth, Absaroka Valley Ammunition is hoping to work with other companies in Sheridan, such as Weatherby, to establish programs in Sheridan College to provide a trained workforce for this growing manufacturing industry.

“All of us are going to be able to work together, we hope to set up a new division at the college that will be generating people to come work in these very similar production facilities,” said Dr. Michael Strahan, a partner in Absaroka Valley Ammunition. “That’s kind of our long term goal.”

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